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Occupy Mayberry: Where Is Sheriff Taylor When We Need Him

The Independent Weekly, Raleigh NC, has yet another excellent piece on our local Occupy movement. We’re not used to SWAT teams in our village, yet here they are:

Just down the road in liberal, affable Chapel Hill, where I lived for many years without experiencing police brutality or much civil disobedience, a reporter with a camera recorded steroidal officers in full SWAT-team battle gear, pistols and assault rifles at the ready, charging an unarmed encampment of self-described anarchists who had “liberated” a vacant building. A few seconds later the reporter was arrested, handcuffed and forced to lie facedown on the pavement with the unfortunate anarchists, who had neither resisted nor threatened any crime greater than trespassing.

Continuing to read “Otherwise occupied: What price revolution?”, I began to chuckle at this reference to our beloved native son Andy Griffith’s best known character Sheriff Andy Taylor:

This is North Carolina, where we like to believe that our law enforcement officers still emulate Sheriff Andy Taylor of the canonical Andy Griffith Show. What would Andy have done in the same situation, instead of recruiting 15 commandos in riot gear to arrest seven unarmed trespassers? He would, of course, have sent over Aunt Bee with a plate of fresh brownies, and then amiably advised the young people that they could have breakfast tomorrow at home, or with him at the jailhouseā€”their choice. And he would have kept his excitable deputy Barney Fife, with his one bullet, as far from the crime scene as possible.

How naive … yet the more I think about it, Sheriff Taylor is exactly who we need. I’m sympathetic to the beat officer who faces potential danger during common assignments such as:

Last week in Wake County, a deputy answering a domestic disturbance call took a shotgun blast in the chest and was saved only by his bulletproof vest. In the NRA’s Second Amendment Nation, any gray-haired lady tending her philodendrons may be packing a Glock. But in a temperate zone like Chapel Hill, someone in authority ought to be experienced and prudent enough to realize that college-town demonstrators are a fairly harmless lot compared to wife beaters, or even Tea Party soldiers whose T-shirts say “God, Guns, Babies.”

Given that Occupy groups nationwide have shown no propensity for violence except in rare cases or when under attack, the police are far safer walking through an Occupy site than stopping a drunk driver or an enraged jealous husband. Municipalities across the country need to step back from the brink, take a deep breath and watch a few episodes of The Andy Griffith Show before more citizens get hurt.
– Iron Filing